Thursday, 4 February 2010

Human depravity

In fact it wasn't the ordinary day at the office finishing me off last week - it was "atypical pneumonia"! Thankfully the antibiotics seem to be doing exactly what they're meant to; four doses so far and I feel so much better.

This weekend, God-willing, I'll be preaching on Mark 7:1-23. This is the passage in which Jesus exposes the great difference between Pharisaical religion and true religion. Defilement does not come from outside - what you can touch or eat - it comes fundamentally from within, inside the heart.

Why is there so much wickedness in the world, and why is it so widespread? Because there are fallen people in the world, and they carry within them the root of every possible evil. Where do the horrors we can read of in the daily papers come from? From your and my wrong desires, placed in the situation and with the opportunity to express themselves.

Yesterday I read of a 17-year old, well liked and respected high school student who..... hired the school drug dealer for $1,000 to kill his mother. Which the school drug dealer did, stabbing her over 40 times after the door was left open to let him in. The reason was because she insisted he do his chores and observe the curfews she imposed. Tellingly, there were lots of comments on the website from his friends, who could not bring themselves to believe it. "I really feel there's something not quite right here" was the kind of comment - he was such a nice guy, surely nice people can't have this kind of thing in them.... and yet they really can, and do.

Christianity can afford to be uniquely frank about the real corruption of humanity, because it actually has the solution for it. Man-made religions, with all their rules which are supposed to make us righteous in God's sight, have to deny the truth. The fall of man, total depravity, the captivity (not freedom) of the human will to sin - all these things the philosophers and religionists of this world hate and try to scoff at. And yet the realities of the daily paper and our own inner struggles with appalling evils remain: stubborn facts that won't go away.

And yet they do go away, where the power of Christ's death is known and received. Christianity has the radical solution that the Son of God took the whole penalty of our wrong upon himself and paid off the whole lot. It says that he rose from the dead, and sends God the Holy Spirit to purge and make new creations out of those whom he saves. He comes himself by his Spirit to live in them, and little by little that corruption can be put to death. It is a solution every bit as radical as the problem. Man is immensely wicked to the very core - yet Jesus died for people who are immensely wicked to the very core.

You won't find this teaching of human depravity in man-made, Pharisaical religion - because such religion has no solution for it. Human "good works" cannot make up for such an enormous deficit. But the fact that such depravity is very real is in itself a great evidence that Christianity is true - because it can look the reality in the face, admit it all, and then say "and here is the answer".

1 comment:

Ned Kelly said...

Thank you for that, it is so refreshing to hear a Christian pastor keeping to the truth of the Gospel, instead of the wishy-washy liberal tripe that we mostly hear nowadays in the secularised version: be kind, love your neighbour, do good, be accepting of everyone and everything, grant everyone the right to their own opinion, be happy, get along, all will be well ... but don't mention the war, i.e. sin. Sadly, even our clergy are pursuing that line, not wanting to mention the inconvenient truth of our sinful nature, the need for a relationship with Our Lord Jesus, the need for true, consistent, and persistent repentance. In my own life, I have found that a regular reminder to repent, far from discouraging me or darkening my day, actually encourages me and fills me with hope. It shows me how much I am dependent on God's grace for salvation, how Christ's sacrifice could achieve what I cannot, and the extent of God's love that He should hang in there with me even when I offend and shun Him, as I so regularly do. If we do not accept our fallen state and sinful nature, nothing about The Cross makes any sense, Christianity is without foundation. Accepting our predilection to sin, the whole glorious understanding is opened to us. Therein lies the hope of the Christian.